Iraqi parliament's first session adjourned as it fails to elect speaker

i24NEWS

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Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, left, the longest serving representative, opens the first parliament session, in Baghdad, Iraq, January 9, 2022.
Iraqi Parliament Media Office via APMahmoud al-Mashhadani, left, the longest serving representative, opens the first parliament session, in Baghdad, Iraq, January 9, 2022.

Temporary speaker taken to hospital after ending chaotic session with competing claims for majority

Iraq's newly elected parliament got off to a rocky start on Sunday during its first session since October's national elections ushered into power Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Legislators gathered inside Baghdad's Green Zone at the Council of Representatives for the session that was supposed to start at 11 am local time but was delayed as politicians participated in closed-door meetings and back-room deals.

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The parliament was supposed to elect a speaker in the first step to forming a new government, but the process was disrupted by competing political blocs arguing over who has the parliamentary majority.

The temporary speaker of parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashahadani, who at 73 is the oldest serving member, adjourned the session amid the bickering with no date set for parliament to reconvene.

Adding to the chaos of the day, Mashahadani was taken ill and transported to a hospital, with the parliament's media office not giving any update on his condition except to say that his blood pressure was being checked.

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Unless Mashahadani returns, a new temporary speaker will need to be appointed before parliament can resume.

Also on the agenda for the first meeting was the election of two deputies, with legislators in the next 30 days needing to vote for a new president who will task the largest bloc with forming the government.